Meeting Kilian Hennessy: Perfume Artist


Kilian Hennessy is the heir to the The LVMH Group brand his grandfather helped cofound (also most commonly known for his cognac line).   Growing up around the cognac business,  Kilian studied at CELSA and before graduating, wrote a thesis paper on the semantics of odours in search of a language common to gods and mortals.  On his website, his biography goes on to say, “In search of the “angels’ share”, he encountered the world of perfumery.  The “angels’ share” is what the House Of Hennessy calls the percentage – that inexplicably – evaporates from cognac cellars, like an offering to the gods.” Upon graduation, Kilian went on to train with some of the greatest and most prestigious perfume houses, such as Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen.  In 2007, Kilian launched his own eco-luxury brand, producing a collection that he deems a deep reflection of himself.  Kilian’s perfumes aren’t just scents, they are an experience that combine elegance and luxury.


Kilian’s Appearance:

I was invited to attend the By Kilian launch brunch at Saks Fifth Avenue, Tysons Galleria with 29 other lucky ladies. (It was the 10th Saks in the nation and the first in Washington, D.C. to carry the collection.) In that intimate of a setting, each of us had the opportunity to personally interact with Kilian before, during and after the event.  Both he and his CEO Elisabeth are wonderful people with an incredible sense of warmth and passion for what believe in – much heart, soul and artistic direction went into each and every scent in this collection. 

When it came time for Kilian to speak about his collection, I learned quite a bit.  Below are some of the highlights:

  • Kilian designed the perfume bottle to be reusable – the style will never change and it is eco-friendly. He believes that luxury is designed to last forever.  If you bring the bottle back in to an authorized By Kilian distributer, it can be refilled it for 1/2 price.
  • The black lacquer case took three months to design – it comes with a lock and tassled key with the By Kilian logo laser-inscribed on the top.   The idea was to follow the same eco-friendly, forever-lasting concept as the bottle
  • The Loeuvre noire collection he designed tells a love story from beginning to end.  There are eight in the series so far and two more are to be launched within the next year. 
  • He also launched Arabian Nights – his ultra – haute fragrance collection that requires white-gloved service from fully-trained staff – the Saks at Galleria is just one of a handful to also carry this line. According to their Facebook page, “The collection launched with “Pure Oud” and the 4 scents to follow will combine “Pure Oud” with essential oils that have strong symbolic values from the Middle East such as Turkish rose, Incense, Amber and Musk. Oud is an extremely rare and precious oil found in agarwood, the resinous heartwood of the aquilaria tree from Southeast Asia. In many Middle Eastern countries, oud is believed to be worth more than its weight in gold.
    The oil itself is dark in coloration and has a complex scent, being warm and woody, yet strongly animalistic at the same time.
    The “Arabian Nights” collection has gold decorations on both the bottle and the coffret to echo the luxurious nature of oud’s spirit.
  • Buying his perfumes are meant to be a luxurious experience, which is why the collection is exclusive to just two retailers in the U.S.: Saks and Bergdorf Goodman and require training before staff may sell
  • His perfumes are meant to be art –  different scents with different outfits for different times of day and different occasions
  • His scents, which are made from the most purest of ingredients, are meant to be worn by both sexes

When Kilian’s presentation was over, we had the ability to continue to converse with him and even take pictures – he’s charming, attractive, well-spoken and taken (sorry ladies).  I ended up scoring a bottle of Don’t be Shy – my favorite scent out of the collection – and am proud to say I am one of the few in D.C. to own it.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this elated over a perfume before.

From beginning to end, it was an amazing experience and he now has one more lifelong fan.  We hope he and Elisabeth return to Washington, D.C. again soon!

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